In the last 33 years, after the collapse of the Somalia government, Puntland was an oasis ofpeace, political moderation and pioneer of Somalia’s efforts to recover from the civil war.
Puntland maintained seven successive peaceful elections. Every five years on 8 January, the president and the vice president are elected by 66 members of parliament. This long tradition of orderly and constitutionally mandated timely transfer of power could be in jeopardy this time.
The current problem
The five year mandate of the Puntland government expires on 8 January 2024. Therefore many Puntlanders want this deadline to be met by all means. On the other hand, the recent successful local government elections and the popular publicsentiment to move away from the old political system to one-person one-vote has a tremendous political appeal.
The notion that these two political positions can be reconciled without current government term extension by creating a third untested option, like involving elected local government councils, in my opinion, is unrealistic and a recipe for more political and security destabilization.
There are two options that could be considered:
1. To select/elect the 66 MPs, the president and vice president on 8 January, 2024 and haltthe election process until the next government;
2. To popularly elect the 66 MPs, president and the vice president with agreed termextensions that include consensus time frame, road map and benchmarks.
Whichever option is acceptable to the people of Puntland only if it’s adapted through consensusof the political parties, the traditional leaders, the government and the other opposition groups.
The hardened resistance to political compromise by the opposing sides, the weakened political elite and disinfrangiced traditional leaders, make political solutions, consensus and compromise elusive.
The potential destabilization of puntland and its possible Consequences
If political consensus is not reached very soon, some or all of the following destabilizing developments are likely to happen:
1. Armed confrontations in some of the main towns of pantland,
2. Collapse of the state institutions,
3. Humanitarian crisis that will be compounded by the SSC-Khaatumo conflict
4. Terrorist Groups of Al-Shabab and others may fill the security and political Vacuum,
5. Puntland destabilization will create serious political and security effects on Central-SouthSomalia.
Puntland political elite and the traditional leaders are now paralyzed because no one is investingor organizing them.
If the following steps are implemented, it’s very likely a positive outcome can be achieved:
1. Puntland constitutional court has to invite an inclusive political elite team and traditional leaders to Garowe to develop a consensus option that could be adapted and legitimized by the Puntland parliament, the president and the court itself.
2. The Puntland government has a duty and moral obligation to invest, organize and supportthis kind of initiative.
3. Key international community stakeholders can also help in which ever way they can.
Dahir Mire Jibreel